21 Sept. 1 Kings 19:19-21

21 Sept.  Elisha becomes Elijah’s helper

“So Elijah left that place and found Elisha son of Shaphat ploughing a field with a team of oxen. He owned twelve teams of oxen and was ploughing with the twelfth team.”

“Elijah came up to Elisha, took off his coat and put it on Elisha. Then Elisha left his oxen and ran to follow Elijah.”

“'Let me kiss my father and my mother goodbye.’ Elisha said. ‘Then I will go with you.’ Elijah answered, ‘Go back. It does not matter to me.’”

“So Elisha went back and took his pair of oxen and killed them. He used their wooden yoke for a fire. Then he cooked the meat and gave it to the people.”

“After they ate, Elisha left and followed Elijah and became his helper.”

          (1 Kings 19:19-21)

 

 

A short passage today, which introduces us to Elisha, who was to become Elijah’s successor (see 2 Kings 2:1-15).

The passage tells us three or four interesting things about Elisha. Firstly, he was wealthy. We’re told that Elisha owned twelve teams of oxen. Anyone who owned a single team of oxen to plough their land would have been fairly prosperous as oxen cost a lot to purchase and maintain. Owning twelve teams of oxen tells us that Elisha was very wealthy indeed.

Secondly, he was generous. When he agreed to go with Elijah, he killed the team of oxen he’d been ploughing with, cooked the meat, and distributed it to his friends and neighbours.

Thirdly, Elisha was affectionate. He didn’t want to leave his family before saying goodbye: “’Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,’ Elisha said. ‘Then I will go with you.’” (1 Kings 19:20)

And lastly, he was obedient. Despite his great wealth, after Elijah took off his coat and put it on Elisha, Elisha didn’t hesitate to ‘take up the mantle’ and follow Elijah. For the next dozen or so years, he became a valuable helper, and, ultimately, a remarkable successor.

Elisha’s request to say goodbye to his parents may remind you of Jesus’s words to a potential follower: “Another man said, ‘I will follow you, Lord, but first let me go and say goodbye to my family.’ Jesus said, ‘Anyone who begins to plough a field but keeps looking back is of no use in the kingdom of God.’” (Luke 9:61-62)

We’re not told whether Jesus, like Elijah, allowed the man to say goodbye to his parents; but we must assume from Jesus’s reply that the man was quite hesitant about following Jesus in the first place. Unlike this man, Elisha showed no hesitation when asked to follow Elijah.

The photo shows a depiction of Elisha on a Russian 18th century icon from Kizhi monastery. 

You can read more about Elisha @ https://www.thebiblejourney.org/biblejourney2/32-the-divided-kingdom-amp-journey-into-exile/elisha-displays-spiritual-gifts/


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